Rowetta on her early days with Happy Mondays: "Bez fancied me"

31 October 2020, 10:00

Rowetta and Bez from Happy Mondays
Rowetta and Bez from Happy Mondays. Picture: Ian Dickson/Redferns/Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The singer has been recalling her introduction to the Madchester legends - and how she had to win a competition to tour with them in Ibiza!

Rowetta has been recalling how she met Happy Mondays for the first time - and that she already knew Bez because he fancied her!

The Manchester singer was enlisted to provide vocals for the band's single Step On, and when two major hometown gigs were added to the schedule, it was decided that Rowetta should join the Mondays on stage.

As Roweatta explains on the latest episode of BritPopCast, she'd only met lead singer Shaun Ryder the day before the shows at Manchester's G-Mex arena on 24 and 25 March 1990, but knew of Bez already.

"Bez had fancied me before he'd even wanted to join the Mondays," she explained. "He was always chatting me up and I was trying to avoid him.

"When I saw the Mondays on the TV I thought, I love this band, but that guy's in it, who won't stop mithering me! I thought he was a bit of a weirdo."

She told hosts George Lewis and Paul McCaffrey: "Bez had a crush on me, but I really wasn't interested. But now we're best friends - he's like my brother!"

Rowetta and Bez perform with Happy Mondays in 2012
Rowetta and Bez perform with Happy Mondays in 2012. Picture: Jim Dyson/Redferns via Getty Images

Rowetta appeared with the band at the two G-Mex dates, but her association with Happy Mondays would continue. She appeared on the subsequent album Pills 'N' Thrills And Bellyaches, with her distinctive, soulful vocals to the fore on classic baggy tracks like Kinky Afro and Bob's Yer Uncle.

READ MORE: How Happy Mondays turned a cover version crisis into a huge hit

However, despite becoming being an integral part of the Mondays' sound, the band were signed to the perpetually cash-strapped Factory Records and Rowetta was told that it wouldn't be "cost effective" for her to go on tour with the Salford lads.

In fact, a trip to Ibiza in the summer of 1990 called for desperate measures - Rowetta had to enter a competition with a local newspaper to go and perform with her own group!

She recalls: "You had to take a bar of chocolate to the Manchester Evening News building and be the first there to win two tickets to Happy Mondays with flights!"

Rowetta and Shaun Ryder performing with Happy Mondays at the Birmingham NEC, March 1990
Rowetta and Shaun Ryder performing with Happy Mondays at the Birmingham NEC, March 1990. Picture: Shutterstock

"My kids were at school, so I dropped them off and got there about ten past eight in the morning - and i was there first!

"All the fans that did turn up thought I was there to hand over the prize! They were going that's a fix - no, it's not a fix because I got there first.

"The band were there for about three days and I had a whole week - I had a ball!"

George Lewis and Paul McCaffrey present a new episode of BritPopCast every week - you can listen via Global Player, or wherever you get your podcasts.